• iStaging lets agents produce virtual-reality home tours using a mobile app, rendering software and goggles.
  • It's reportedly backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and recently raised $5 million.

3-D virtual home tours may not have gone mainstream yet — in part because they typically require special equipment and know-how to produce.

Taiwan-based iStaging is one startup that may help bring the technology to the masses by making it possible to create the tours using a smartphone.

Its product for agents — which is advertised for $60 on its website — features a mobile app, rendering software and virtual-reality googles. 

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 11.58.45 AM

Who’s backing iStaging?

Perhaps inspiring confidence in the startup, Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce firm worth nearly $250 billion, is among iStaging’s backers. It invested $2 million in iStaging in a deal “sourced and managed” by venture capital firm, WI Harper, Bloomberg reported in late July.

WI Harper also led a $5 million funding round announced by iStaging today. Taya Venture Capital participated in the round as well.

What will iStaging do with the money?

iStaging will use the cash to expand deeper into markets where it already has “satellite offices,” namely in Redwood City, California, and Paris.

In cooperation with “partners in China” — a possible reference to Alibaba — iStaging will also grow its footprint in China.

To capture content for a tour, real estate agents must hold their phone at chest level and then spin around a home in a handful of positions. Agents then can use iStaging’s web-based software to stitch the content into a tour with an accompanying floor plan.

The tours can be shared in the MLS or elsewhere through a link.

Screen shot of iStaging tour

Screen shot of iStaging tour

By strapping customers into iStaging’s headset, agents or brokers who’ve built an inventory of the tours can “take your clients through dozens of properties right from your office and save time pre-selecting those you will visit in person.”

Easy to use; relatively less lifelike

Unlike some other 3-D tours, iStaging tours don’t let users saunter about a home. Prospective homebuyers can only teleport from room to room by clicking on spots on a floor plan, similar to the way users must navigate tours from Planitar, a popular virtual home tour provider.

But iStaging’s ease of use, both for agents and consumers, arguably might make up for its relatively less lifelike experience.

iStaging isn’t only targeting real estate agents. It’s also built products for property developers, interior designers, furnishings makers and even everyday homeowners.

Some products create an “augmented reality” experience that lets users superimpose furniture onto the camera screen of a tablet to visualize what it would look like in a room.

“iStaging’s innovations enable businesses in its target market segments to provide their clients with the capability to visualize the end-product in a realistic setting — be it avant-garde furniture pieces or properties for sale/rent,” iStaging said.

Email Teke Wiggin

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